Human tissue: ethical and legal issues


Published 03/04/1995

Human Tissue Ethical and Legal Issues report cover

The terms of reference were as follows:

  1. To survey and report on the current and prospective medical and scientific uses made of sub-cellular structures, cells and their products, tissue and organs hereinafter referred to as human tissue;
  2. To give some account of developments in research and exploitation of tissue, identifying current and potential benefits and current and potential difficulties;
  3. To identify and define ethical issues and questions of public policy and current practices arising from the use and exploitation of human tissue, including such matters as:
    1. the source of the tissue, eg patient, healthy volunteer, cadaver, fetus;
    2. the relationship between the person using the tissue for research or therapeutic purposes and the source from which it derives;
    3. consent, particularly as regards the potential foreseeable consequences flowing from the intended use;
    4. rights in and exploitation of knowledge acquired from research:
      1. particularly claims to exclusive use of such knowledge through use of intellectual property rights
      2. and generally the notion of regarding human tissue as a commodity, in particular as a commodity in some cases of significant commercial value.